The countdown to the restart of the NBA season has already begun, with the 22 teams expected to take part in it looking to finish the regular season on a high note. Before the suspension of the season due to coronavirus, most of the teams had already secured qualification for the playoffs at the end of the season. One of these teams is none other than Indian Pacers, who been impressive all season despite their early season. Qualification for the playoffs this season meant that the Pacers would be in the hunt for a first-ever NBA Championship for the 5th consecutive season. They will also be looking to go beyond the first round for the first time in recent years.
Currently, the Pacers are 5th in the Eastern Conference and second in the Central Division with a 39-26 win-loss record and a .600 win percentage.
It will be difficult to rule them out as strong contenders for the NBA title this season considering their form.
We take a look at Indiana Pacers’ season so far and highlight some of the positives from it.
Indiana Pacers’ season so far
After finishing last season with a defeat to Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, the Pacers had no choice but to reorganize and prepare this season. The Pacers still possessed a strong team despite not making any significant additions during the summer.
However, the Pacers’ season didn’t kick off exactly how they pictured it as they lost their opening three games of the season against Detroit Pistons (Home and Away) and Cleveland Cavaliers. They managed to pick up their first victory of the season in their fourth game as they beat Brooklyn Nets 118-108 on the road. Two additional wins over Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls made it three consecutive wins and improved their win-loss record to 3-3 after six opening games. The three-game winning streak would come to an early at the hands of Charlotte Hornets on the road as they lost 122-120 in overtime. Despite the setback, Indiana Pacers recovered to record four straight wins over Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder. After the first 11 games of the season, Pacers had won 7 and lost four games, giving them a decent 7-4 win-loss record.
The 4-game winning run also ended as the Pacers lost two consecutive games against Houston Rockets (111-102) and Milwaukee Bucks (102-83). The nature of those two defeats highlighted some of the weaknesses and raised a lot of questions about the Pacers’ ability to maintain a longer winning streak. However, Indiana Pacers quickly proved their critics wrong with five straight wins over Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks. Indiana Pacers’ form began to dip in the early days of December as they won 3 and lost 3 of their next six games. Five consecutive wins soon followed as the Pacers extended their win-loss record to an impressive 20-9 after their opening 29 games of the season.
The inconsistencies began to resurface in the team from the end of December to the beginning of the New Year as they lost 6 of their next nine games during that period. However, they managed to pick up five straight wins from their next five games before losing 118-88 at Utah Jazz. Three victories from their next four games soon followed. The victories extended the Pacers’ win-loss record to 31-17 after 48 games. However, The Pacers failed to continue their impressive run of wins as they went on a 7-game losing streak at the beginning of February. The losing streak has since become a distant memory as the Pacers went on to win 8 of their last 11 games before the suspension of the season.
Positives from Indiana Pacers’ season so far
In his four seasons at Indiana Pacers, Head Coach Nate McMillan has embarked on a project of building a team that isn’t reliant on a single player. His plan has paid dividends this season as the successes the Pacers have achieved so far has been down to the collective performances of numerous players. This season, the likes of Small Forward T.J. Warren, Power Forward Domantas Sabonis, Point Guard Malcolm Brogdon, Shooting Guards Victor Oladipo, and Jeremy Lamb along with Center Myles Turner have all made significant contributions to the Pacers’ successes.
In terms of the stats, T.J. Warren has averaged 18.7 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game and 1.4 assists per game in 61 appearances. Sabonis has an average of 18.5 points per game, 12.4 rebounds per game and 5.0 assists per game in 62 appearances. Malcolm Brogdon has also averaged 16.3 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game and 7.1 assists per game in 48 games.
Victor Oladipo has averaged 13.8 points per game, 3.2 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game in 13 games while Jeremy Lamb has also averaged 12.5 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game and 2.1 assists per game in 46 games.
Myles Turner has also averaged 11.8 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game and 1.1 assists per game in 55 appearances.
Another positive from the Pacers’ season has been their performances against some of the best teams in the NBA this season. Throughout the season, Indiana Pacers have managed to pick up significant wins over the likes of Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, and Milwaukee Bucks.
What’s next for Indiana Pacers?
With a place in the playoffs already booked, Indiana Pacers will be looking to finish the season on a high note and extend their win-loss record. If they manage to keep most of their consistent performers fit and also sort out the weaknesses, they could indeed become the dark horses in the NBA title race.